Redevelopment is a process specifically authorized under the Colorado Urban Renewal Law to assist Denver and other local governments throughout the state in revitalizing their communities. In Denver, DURA uses redevelopment to address sites within communities that once served productive uses but have deteriorated or are vacant and need assistance to become viable again. To accomplish redevelopment, DURA forms partnerships with private entities and uses tax increment financing (TIF), a tool available only to redevelopment agencies to breathe new life into those areas. As a result, the entire community benefits from the creation of new housing, retail, jobs and tax revenues. In Colorado, more than 30 municipalities have adopted local redevelopment plans.
Redevelopment enables communities like Denver to grow inward, not just outward. It enhances and expands local businesses, renovates declining housing stock and improves public infrastructure systems and facilities. Redevelopment also helps encourage new housing and businesses to locate within already developed areas. It helps reduce crime and long commutes, promotes affordable housing and preserves the environment.
Redevelopment can help implement a revitalization effort for a deteriorating shopping center, an environmentally contaminated site or an industrial area that is no longer in operation. Redevelopment plans often are created with input from the area affected and adopted so they can respond to a neighborhood’s unique needs and vision. For example, a 42-member citizens advisory board worked for two years to produce the framework for redeveloping the former Stapleton International Airport.
In Denver, redevelopment plans have helped in neighborhoods to:
The first step in the redevelopment process is the formation of a redevelopment agency. In Denver, the City Council took that first step in 1958 when it established DURA by city ordinance.
The Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) is an urban renewal authority that serves as the City of Denver’s redevelopment agency. DURA is governed by an 11 member board of commissioners appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council for staggered five-year terms.
DURA’s primary function is to assist the city in elimination and prevention of slums and blighted areas. To accomplish its mission, the authority works in close partnership with the Mayor, City Council, and a variety of city agencies as well as downtown and neighborhood groups. Rather than specifying particular types of projects and activities, the law allows DURA and other urban renewal authorities in Colorado to exercise judgment in determining which projects and activities best achieve its function. DURA redevelopment plans and use of TIF must be approved by City Council.
What law governs DURA?
The Colorado Urban Renewal Law (C.R.S. 31-25-101) governs DURA and all of the state’s urban renewal authorities. It identifies the criteria under which an area can be found to be blighted and thus eligible for redevelopment using TIF. Under the law, urban renewal authorities can use TIF only when the blight criteria contained in the law are met.
The urban renewal law also gives DURA and other redevelopment agencies the ability to use eminent domain to assemble private property for the purpose of accomplishing a redevelopment project. DURA uses eminent domain only as a tool of last resort when attempts to acquire private property through negotiation fail. Refer to Section 5 below for more information about eminent domain.
Under the law, DURA and other redevelopment agencies may not levy taxes.
Why does DURA get involved in a redevelopment project?
DURA’s mission is the elimination of blighted areas through creative redevelopment. Before the authority may get involved in a project, the area first must be found to be blighted. A blighted area means an area which, in its present condition and use, has substantially and adversely affected or slowed the reasonable growth of the community, hindered the provision of decent housing, or constitutes a social liability to the community, and therefore is detrimental to the well-being of the citizens. The Colorado Urban Renewal Law delineates the requirements for determining blight, and if blight is not found, DURA does not get involved.
There are 11 factors of blight identified in the law, and four of them must be found for an area to be declared an urban renewal area, unless there is no objection by the property owner(s) and tenants, in which case only one factor of blight must be present. If eminent domain is used, five factors of blight must be found. The following factors are used to determine if an area is blighted:
If blight is found in my community, what happens next?
DURA must determine how much area will be included in a redevelopment project area, but it is required by state law to draw the boundaries of the area as narrowly as possible to achieve the objectives of the redevelopment plan.
DURA cannot acquire or transfer property or undertake a redevelopment project until a plan has been adopted by City Council. The redevelopment plan provides a legal framework for planning and implementing revitalization activities in a project area. It also can establish the authority to use TIF to help finance a project. Redevelopment plans are covered in more detail in Section 4.
If a redevelopment plan is adopted that includes my home or business, does that mean my home or business is “blighted?”
Not necessarily. Blight is a legal term used solely for the purpose of determining whether your neighborhood can qualify for redevelopment. DURA and the City Council must make a finding that an area suffers from adverse conditions, defined in the law as blight.
Some areas that qualify for redevelopment may have well-maintained homes or businesses interspersed among deteriorating structures and other conditions of blight. If a property is included in a redevelopment project area, it means TIF may be used in the area to stimulate redevelopment.
Do property taxes go up because of redevelopment in an area?
Not necessarily. Redevelopment typically does not directly affect property taxes, although there may be an indirect effect if property values eventually increase in a broader area because of the redevelopment.
Does DURA work alone to revitalize neighborhoods?
No. DURA realizes that it takes a variety of other groups and organizations in order to accomplish its neighborhood redevelopment goals. Among the financial and community resources upon which the agency draws are the city’s Community Planning and Development Agency, the Office of Economic Development, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, as well as federal agencies, private foundations, private developers, banks and other business organizations.
How does DURA insure that a redevelopment project will be compatible with the overall planning already in place for a neighborhood?
Every redevelopment project undertaken by DURA is reviewed by the Denver Planning Board to determine whether it complies with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
The Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) offers language translation by utilizing Google's free translation service. While it's common to find some imperfections in these translations, the service provides easy access to translation in several different languages at no expense. If you have any specific questions or would like to speak with someone in Spanish, please contact DURA at 303-534-3872.